LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Violent conflict and unrest cost the world as much as the combined economic output of Britain, Germany, France and Italy last year, or $1,350 per person globally, an index measuring the state of world peace found on Wednesday.
The economic cost of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence last year was an estimated $9.8 trillion, 11.3 percent of global economic output, up 3.8 percent from 2012, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
Syria displaced Afghanistan as the world’s least peaceful nation due to its civil war, while Iceland maintained its status as the most peaceful country, the IEP said in its annual Global Peace Index.
The United States dropped to 101st place in the index, two slots below Haiti, because of the Boston marathon bombings, while Russia remained one of the poorest performers, ranking 152nd.
Terrorist activity, the number of conflicts, and an increase in the number of refugees and displaced persons were key contributors to the continuing deterioration in global peacefulness last year, according to the IEP.
It was the seventh successive year in which the world had become a less peaceful place according to the index, which gauges conflict, unrest, safety, security, militarisation and defence spending by assessing 22 indicators from 162 countries.
That pattern reversed a 60-year trend towards increasing global peacefulness following the end of World War II.
“Given the deteriorating global situation we cannot be complacent about the institutional bedrocks for peace,” said Steve Killelea, the institute’s executive chairman.
“This is a wakeup call to governments, development agencies, investors and the wider international community that building peace is the prerequisite for economic and social development.”
Europe kept its position as the most peaceful region with 14 of the 20 most peaceful countries.
Britain was ranked 47th, one place above France and one below Lithuania.
The new rankings also reflected an increase in military spending in China, which was ranked 108th.
South Sudan, where civil war threatens to tear apart the world’s newest nation just three years after its birth, experienced the largest drop and now ranks as the third least peaceful country.
Iraq ranked 159th even before the latest sectarian violence.
Major deteriorations also occurred in Egypt, Ukraine and Central African Republic.
Using new statistical modelling techniques, the IEP identified the 10 countries most threatened by increased levels of unrest and violence in the next two years: Zambia, Haiti, Argentina, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and Qatar.